I recently signed up to be a Beta Tester for an online course ‘Employee Happiness’ created by an excellent friend of mine – Raj, McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Raj has also written a fantastic book along the same lines, ‘If you are so smart, why are you not happy?’
In his course, Raj talks about the famous wallet study where researchers spread wallets containing money in different parts of the world. The wallets also contained a clue to the owner’s identity so that they could be returned. What do you think was the percentage of the wallets returned? 10%, 20%, 30%?
Results were astonishing. A good 60%-80% of the wallets were returned. I found it surprising, growing up in cities like Mumbai, Delhi you are told to watch out for pickpockets – keep your bag close to you. To this day, I hold my bag with the zip facing towards me.
The moral of the story is – People are more trustworthy than we believe them to be. The reason for this is negativity bias. When we were all cavemen and cavewomen, we needed to focus on the one thing that would go wrong as our lives depended on it literally. As Sandrine from the online course states – If there was an orange tree – we had to watch out for one tiger that might be lurking behind it.
But, we don’t live in that world anymore, but we still operate on that negativity bias. We live our lives in fear of the 20% of that can go wrong instead of focusing on the 80% that is going right. Can you imagine the amount of stress that we go through? And we wonder why the divisiveness in the world is increasing?
The world now, more than ever needs more love – in any shape or form, regardless of sexual orientation, nationality, religion. Forget about these big dividers – even in our daily lives, in our office, in our teams, in our social circle – do we trust people? Do we think they are out to get us? Do we believe they will do what is best for everybody?
I am sure a lot of us are thinking – it would be stupid for me to trust that my colleagues at work want the best for me. Now, think about the wallet study. Can we afford to trust others a little bit more? Even 5%-10% more would make a huge difference. It is time we start doing this if we want humanity to survive happily for future generations. It is all in our heads. It is time we broke the conditioning of our primal mind and evolved to a new level of consciousness. It starts with us, each one of us can contribute to it. Let’s start from a place of trust, give each other benefit of the doubt, and we will be pleasantly surprised – at least 80% of the time.
How will you play your part in increasing the trust in the world?